Title

Indian Trade Lawyers and the Building of State Trade-Related Legal Capacity

Abstract

This paper examines the growing role of Indian lawyers in the transformation of Indian trade policy through the development of trade-related legal capacity. By trade-related legal capacity we mean, broadly, the ability of a country to use law to engage proactively in the development and defense of international and domestic policy. Such capacity is critical for the drafting and interpretation of international legal agreements, the adoption of domestic regulation within those agreements’ constraints in order to defend policy space, the monitoring of foreign commitments, and the development of legal arguments in formal international litigation and informal dispute settlement. Through developing legal capacity, public and private actors work together to open export opportunities abroad and defend domestic policy measures at home. While others have written of the legalization of international trade through the increased role of the WTO legal secretariat and the emergence of the WTO Appellate Body in international dispute settlement, this paper addresses the growing role of lawyers in the development of trade policy at home in one of the world’s rising powers, India.

The paper builds from years of field research in India and Geneva, involving semi-structured interviews with over fifty Indian officials and stakeholders. The interviewees included former Ambassadors, members of the bureaucracy, private lawyers, private trade association and industry representatives, researchers in think tanks, academics, and news reporters. We complemented these interviews with participant observation in Geneva and in New Delhi, and reviewed our findings against primary and secondary documents.

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